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10 Celebrities Who Only Got Recognition Later in Their Career

The star of Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown, highlighted that the entertainment industry is “full of rejections, 24/7.” When going to Hollywood, most actors don’t know if they will ever see success and can only hang onto their hopes and passion for acting. The people featured in our article took a long time to succeed and faced many hardships, but luckily, there is a happy ending.

1. Harrison Ford


His career started out with a 40-second-long uncredited role, and he would not see much success until 11 years later, when he starred as Han Solo in Star Wars. The actor had a day job as a carpenter while he waited for his big break.

2. Sheryl Lee Ralph

Invision/Associated Press/East News

She has been acting since the ’70s and has over 100 acting credits. However, she only received her first Emmy nomination (and became the winner in the category) in 2022 for her work on the sitcom, Abbott Elementary.

3. Viola Davis

The actress spent 30 years playing secondary roles, and she only got her first lead role in a major movie in 2018 when she played Veronica in Widows. She also starred as the main character on the ABC series, How to Get Away with Murder, from 2014 to 2020.

4. Naomi Watts

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection / East News

She made her acting debut on the TV show, Return to Eden, in 1986, but it took 15 years for her to make it big. Starring in David Lynch’s movie, Mullholand Drive, brought her worldwide recognition and numerous awards from critics.

5. Jenna Fischer

Jenna Fischer had dreamt of becoming an actress ever since she was a child, but at one point she thought of quitting acting due to the lack of work. She moved to L.A. in order to pursue her dreams in 1996, and she finally became successful in 2005 when she starred in The Office.

6. Lucille Ball


Some people now may think of her as the queen of comedy, but back in the day, she was known as the “Queen of Bs” for starring in numerous low-budget films, known as B-movies. She starred in over 70 roles before the sitcom, I Love Lucy, which was a game-changer.

7. William Jackson Harper

He has been acting since 2007, but has mostly done minor appearances in a number of TV shows. Because of that, he thought of quitting acting for good, and when he got cast as one of the main characters in The Good Place in 2016, he thought he would only do the pilot. However, the show became a big success and brought him recognition.

8. Laverne Cox

© lavernecox / Instagram, Image supplied by Netflix/Capital Pictures/EAST NEWS

It took her 13 years to get booked for a major role, Sophia, in Orange Is the New Black. Prior to that, the actress thought of quitting, as she was “devastated by turning 40 and being in a lot of debt.” She said that she had trouble finding work as a Black transgender woman because nobody like her had succeeded in Hollywood before.

9. Daniel Craig

© The Power of One / New Regency Productions and co-producers, Image supplied by Capital Pictures/EAST NEWS

He made his acting debut in 1992 in the movie, The Power of One, and then struggled a lot. While waiting for his big break, he had to sleep on public benches because he couldn’t make ends meet. However, things changed when he got international recognition in 2006 for playing James Bond in Casino Royale.

10. Chris Pratt

Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection/East News, East News

Chris Pratt was homeless and working minimum wage jobs when he got lucky, and a casting agent decided to bring him to LA for him to star in a movie. However, the movie “sucked” and was never released, but the actor decided to stay in Hollywood to try his luck. It took him 9 years to get his big break on the sitcom, Parks and Recreation.

Do you think it’s better to work a safe job or follow your dreams, even though it might be risky? Do you have any stories of personal success?

Preview photo credit The Power of One / New Regency Productions and co-producers, Image supplied by Capital Pictures/EAST NEWS
Bright Side/People/10 Celebrities Who Only Got Recognition Later in Their Career
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